There have been rumors that the sudden influx of mice into the Barnard dorms is due to the recent library construction. It is hard to imagine the life of one of these mice, let alone empathize with the creature. In order to bridge the evolutionary gap, Bwog presents this fictional narrative of the life of one Mus Barnardi.
Bang! The den shook. Bang!
“What’s happening?” My brother Billy squeaked.
Bang! And with that, the den collapsed. The walls of the only home I ever knew crumbled around me. The warm darkness gave way to blaring light and sound. We scattered. I clawed and scraped through the rubble. I couldn’t see anything through the thick dust, but I knew instinctively not to stop. I managed to reach the edge of the rubble, ducked under a chainlink fence onto the grass beyond. I looked back expecting to see my family right behind me. Instead there was nothing. The library, my home, was gone.
My family was gone.
I found a place under a bush and lay there trembling until nightfall.
Since the beginning of time in the far back corner of the Barnard Library, underneath a dust covered bookshelf lay a copy of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, kicked under a shelf and forgotten generations ago. Behind this faded green book there was a small opening between two cinder blocks—just big enough for a mouse to squeeze through. This is where I lived my entire life. For years upon years us mice bit, chewed, and scrapped a society together alongside The Second Sex. Pipes, broken long ago, served as our superhighways; cheap insulation as our bedding. The Barnard students that snuck food into the library provided all the nourishment we could ever want. Our life was idyllic.
This all changed that fateful day in the summer. After the sunset I went back to where the den used to be. All was left was an open hole. I searched for what felt like days for my family, yet they were nowhere to be found. I knew I couldn’t stay here so I left in search for help.
The month after I left my Barnard home, my life consisted of drifting from place to place. I was a refugee, a wanderer. I lived for a few days in a cold steel corner of the Halal cart on Broadway. Nevertheless, I soon knew I had to leave. There were far too many mice there (none of them from my brood, unfortunately) and the food often made me sick. I soldiered on, and after multiple bad experiences with the wider Mus Columbiae rodent stock, I decided to turn back toward familiar territory. I knew the most likely place I’d find my family would be Barnard, my true home.
I doubted my family would be too near the old library, though. All that was left in that area of campus was a construction zone and a dying tree. After another week of searching, I wound up on the sixth floor of 616 West 116th. At this point, I was starting to doubt that my family was alive at all. Yet just as I felt my lowest, I recognized our family’s smell. It was the smell of old crinkled pages, of fading zines, of warm fur and mice droppings. It was my family.
I scurried out from under the refrigerator. I ignored the screams of tenants of the suite I was couch surfing at that night and dove through the small gap between the floorboard and the wall. As I traveled through the walls of the building, I knew I was getting closer.
There, I saw him. I could recognize his hickory brown fur and pink button nose anywhere. It was Billy. We embraced, as much as our short stubby arms would allow. He led me through the darkness into a small cubby hole. There was my whole family. Mum and Da, all thirty-five of my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. Hundreds and hundreds of mice! We feasted in celebration, finishing an entire corn muffin dropped by a junior.
When I gaze upon the tomb of the Barnard Library, the nostalgia I feel flows over me. I know that I will never get what we had back but that I would have to move on. 616 West 116 St is our new home, and we’ll just have to get used to it.